It’s been a couple of months now since we saw the complete meltdown of Aroldis Chapman. In June, and even little spurts throughout since, he had imploded to the point where he almost lost his job. I’m still not totally convinced that had Jonathan Loasiga stayed healthy, he may have passed Chapman on the depth chart.
HOWEVER, since July 6 and the string of blown saves, Chapman has actually been pretty dominant again. Since blowing the July 4 outing against the mets, the “Cuban missile” is sporting a 1.90 ERA, is 12/12 in save opportunities, has surrendered just 13 hits, and has a 42/16 K:BB ratio.
With nine games left until either the offseason, or a do-or-die Wild Card, Chapman inevitably will play an instrumental role in whatever this season’s outcome is. He’s hot now, but is he due for another blow up? Are the adjustments that he made sustainable over a playoff series? Let’s see if the numbers actually back it up.
I remember reading that Matt Blake had tinkered with some stuff, but seeing it side to side is really crazy to me. To me, it seems as if this has helped his control a considerable amount and helped him pitch down in the zone rather than leaving balls up that would inevitably leave the yard.
Even with seemingly lower fastball velocity, Chapman is able to be effective because he can throw the ball down and for strikes. The Minnesota Twins game shown above was the beginning of the implosion month in June, it feels almost like this was the month that made him recognize he needed a change. After that, he worked on changing, leading to the occasional struggle, and eventually to where we are now – locked in.
Here’s where things get a little interesting. In Chapman’s implosion month, he lost his fastball confidence. From June 1 to July 4, Chapman only went to his fastball 58% of the time. Since then, that number has climbed to almost 64%. Compare this once again to his dominant stretch to start the year (April 5 to June 6) , and he was throwing the fastball 66% of the time.
Moreover, his splitter usage has gone from 6% all of the way up to 10%. Obviously, we put two and two together, that means that the slider is going down. Chapman is finally starting to feel confident in all 3 of his pitches and is mixing them well. A true three pitch closer is scary, and honestly, nothing we’ve seen before out of Chapman.
Before this season, he was a fastball/slider guy. By adding in a third pitch, I actually have more confidence in him going forward. Especially if his resurgence is for real.
Like it or not, Chapman is your closer headed down the stretch and (dear God, hopefully) into the playoffs. Because of what he has shown us since mid July, personally, I actually have a lot of faith in him going forward. Obviously this could all blow up in my face come Friday night. However, his new wind-up, his new pitch mix, and the results that have come from it, have convinced me that he can still be an effective closer.
I don’t say this confidently at all, but ladies and gentlemen, we have a closer again.